Saturday, May 24, 2008

Time for the tournament

Despite a valiant late comeback and a 9th inning Alavarez homer to cut the lead to one, the Dores fell to Ole Miss 8-7 tonight. In all likelihood, they will not be hosting a regional in Nashville this year, and while I speak only for myself, I'm not completely upset by this. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to travel down to Nashville and experience the excitement of hosting (which I have been told was incredible last year), but I can't get past the fact that they didn't move on past the regionals last year. NCAA Tournament baseball is a strange creature, and the fact that Vanderbilt as the number one overall seed last year couldn't make it to the super regionals is evidence of that. Sure everyone would have liked to see them win the SEC tournament this weekend, but to be completely honest, I don't feel any better or worse about this team based on what happened tonight.

I still think they can get hot and make the unlikely run to Omaha just as easily as they can flame out and go 0-2 to start the tournament. So here's to that unlikely deep run to Omaha that will be infinitely more satisfying than last year's early exit. I guess that's just me though, and maybe I'm being overly optimistic. Leave comments below and we'll see if you agree.....

Dores Live to Play Again

In what has become typical Vandy baseball fashion, the Commodores jumped out to a big five-run lead in the third before letting Ole Miss back into the game with a two-run fourth. That was until Brett Jacobsen entered the game, and while he struggled early to find the strike zone, he gave Vanderbilt four huge scoreless (and hitless) innings in the Dores' 7-4 victory.

If you get CSS wherever you are, make sure to tune in a little after 5 p.m. CT today, as the Commodores will play Ole Miss again for the right to advance to the final against either Alabama or LSU.

Don't forget to check out VU Commodores for all the latest, as well as links to the audio for the remaining games if you won't be able to watch.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Vanderbilt moves on in SEC Tournament

Junior Nick Christiani gave the Commodores an effective start, pitching 6 1/3 innings and allowing only one run, and the Vanderbilt offense woke up enough to earn a 7-5 victory over South Carolina in an elimination game in the SEC Tournament.

It was good to see the offense snap out of the doldrums. The top four batters in the lineup, who combined to go 1-14 in the 8-2 loss to LSU, went 7-18 and drove in five runs. Pedro Alvarez had only one hit but made it count: a two-run home run to push the lead to 7-1. David Macias had three hits and scored two runs.

Vanderbilt faces Ole Miss Saturday at 10 a.m. CT in another elimination game.

Thanks to for the statistics.

Video of the Day: David Price is pretty good

Making his much-anticipated professional debut, David Price pitched five shutout innings and faced just two batters of the minimum to lead Class A Vero Beach to a 2-0 victory over Clearwater.

While Price begins his progression toward the Big Leagues, he's still very close with his former teammates. He watched Vandy's contest with LSU before his start and remains best friends with Pedro Alvarez, who he thinks the Rays should draft with the No. 1 overall pick. Check out this interview with the guys of CBS College Sports' "Going Yard."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's do-or-die time for Vandy baseball

The Vanderbilt baseball team finds itself in a familiar situation after losing 8-2 to LSU Thursday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Commodores lost the first game of the double-elimination tournament last year before winning six straight to capture the title. They'll need a similar effort after the surging Tigers won their 18th consecutive game.

Vanderbilt will now play South Carolina in a do-or-die game Friday at 3 p.m. CT. Junior Nick Christiani will get the start, while the Gamecocks will send out right-hander Blake Cooper.

Vandy wins opener in SEC Tourney

The Vanderbilt baseball seems to have a second home in Hoover, Ala. The sixth-seeded Commodores continued their success in the Southeastern Conference, defeating Florida 7-3 Wednesday in the opening round after losing three straight to the Gators last weekend.

They will play LSU Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. The Tigers rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat South Carolina 5-4 in 10 innings and have now won 17 straight games.

Corbin said his team enjoys playing in Hoover, and for good reason. They have two runner-up finishes and a championship over the past four seasons.

On Wednesday, senior Dominic de la Osa went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI, while Steven Liddle and Andrew Giobbi had three hits apiece.

"You get to stay in the winner's bracket. It's the difference between playing four games and six games," Corbin said. "We have done both, and I like the first option. I like to stay in the winner's bracket. We like being here in Birmingham. The kids are comfortable in this park."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Video of the Day: Big Drama in the Champions League Final

While it may seem surprising that today's Champions League Final was the most watched worldwide sporting event of the year, it is probably true. Even as someone without any real rooting interest, I found myself completely and totally entertained by the emotion and drama of the whole thing, even before it went to penalty kicks.

If you don't know, the whole thing wound up in PK's after a 1-1 tie through extra time, adding to the excitement of this highly anticipated match. It's definitely worth a look even if you aren't exactly the soccer fan type. It will make you a more worldly sports fan, I promise. Chelsea's big misses are at 6:25 and 9:15 if you're in a hurry....

Athletics Facilities Makeover: Vanderbilt Edition

I had a chance to watch the Vanderbilt press conference outlining the facility upgrade plan yesterday and came away very impressed.

You had the who's who of Vanderbilt in attendance -- Vice Chancellor of University Affairs and Student Athletics David Williams, Board of Trust Athletics Committee Chair John Ingram, football coach Bobby Johnson, men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings and women's basketball coach Melanie Balcomb -- all sounding optimistic about this university's future.

Sure, Vanderbilt may never win the "arms race" of athletics facilities, particularly in the sports-obsessed and booster-rich Southeastern Conference, but we don't want to, nor could we afford to. What this project proves to me, as well as the coaches in attendance, is that the administration is committed to winning and providing the programs with the necessary resources to do so, which is all you can ever ask for.

"I'm really pleased that over the last five or 10 years we have changed the perception of Vanderbilt from lovable losers to serious competitors," Ingram said. "That's what we want to be and I think that's where we'll stay."

With improved facilities, coaches believe that their programs will be able to take the next step. For Balcomb and Stallings, it's getting from the Sweet 16 to the Final Four (Stallings is already talking national titles). For Johnson, it's qualifying for a bowl game. Corbin has already seen what renovations can do for his program. The improvements to Hawkins Field have enabled him to attract the nation's top recruits and thus contend for a national title year in and year out.

Here's Vanderbilt's five-phase, $55-million, self-funded project:

Phase I - $11 million-$12 million (currently under way)

• Memorial Gym Basketball Locker Rooms
• Vanderbilt Stadium Facility Renovation:
Work will include a new exterior stadium facade between Gates 2 and 3; renovation of the eastside stadium concourse; and exterior/interior paint and interior signage to Stadium Press Box/Suite Tower
• Hawkins Field Baseball Stadium Expansion: $3 million-$3.3 million
• Football Synthetic Surfaces at John Rich Practice Facility and Wedgewood Recreation Field: $2 million

Phase II - $11 million-$12 million

• McGugin Center Renovation:
Work will include construction of the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame, renovation of position and team meeting rooms for football, and renovation of the athletic training room.
• Vanderbilt Stadium Renovation:
Work will include rebuilding of Gates 2 and 3; exterior facade along Natchez Trace; and development of a plaza in front of Gate 2.

Phase III - $7 million-$8 million

• Vanderbilt Stadium:
Plans call for the renovation of Gates 1 and 4 in north endzone of stadium along with construction of plaza area.
• McGugin Center:
First phase of renovation to support staff of Stratton Foster Academic Center area, and renovation to football coaches' offices, support staff offices and coaches' locker rooms.

Phase IV - $16 million-$18 million

• Vanderbilt Stadium:
Work will include construction of north endzone building and seating; addition of synthetic turf in stadium.
• McGugin Center:
Renovation of the football locker rooms, equipment rooms, and athletic training room; Olympic Sport locker rooms and meeting rooms will be constructed on second floor.

Phase V - $1 million-$2 million

• McGugin Center:
Renovation and expansion of Hendrix Room dining facility; addition of offices and suites.

Thanks to VUCommodores, which has all the latest on the project:

Facilities Upgrade Central (pictures, videos, timeline, etc.)
Official Press Release
Quotes from press conference

Commodore Banter (5/21)

Tuesday was an exciting day for Vanderbilt coaches, players and fans alike as the university announced its plans for a five-year, $55 million upgrade of athletics facilities.

Highlights of the project, which will be self-funded, include:

-Renovating Vanderbilt Stadium, including the addition brick walls around the lower portion of the exterior that will resemble Hawkins Field, increased signage and a revamped concourse area.
-Expanding Hawkins Field's seating capacity to 3,700 by adding permanent seating in the outfield and along the first-base line.
-Construction of a Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame in McGugin Center

Brett Hait of The Nashville City Paper discusses how the improvements will impact recruiting.

Maurice Patton of The Tennessean talks with recruiting analysts and comes to the consensus that Vanderbilt couldn't make a better move than to do this.

Meanwhile, columnist David Climer finds himself at a crossroads.

In baseball news, the Commodores begin their SEC Tournament title defense today (1 p.m. CT) when they take on Florida in Hoover, Ala. Losers of five straight, Vanderbilt will try to regain its swagger and I'm confident that it will.

As Ryan Schulz points out, the Hawkins Nine may be down, but far from out.

Senior catcher Shea Robin is quietly having a terrific season and was recently named one of 12 semi-finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation's top collegiate catcher.

Meanwhile, five of his teammates earned All-SEC honors, highlighted by Pedro Alvarez and David Macias. How Robin was not one of them is beyond me.

And finally, in football news, the New Orleans Saints recently signed former Vanderbilt offensive tackle Brian Stamper. Congrats, Brian.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Five players earn All-SEC honors

The day before Vanderbilt begins its Southeastern Conference Tournament title defense, five Commodores earned All-SEC recognition, highlighted by junior third baseman Pedro Alvarez and senior centerfielder David Macias, who were named to the first team.

Rightfielder Dominic de la Osa, shortstop Ryan Flaherty and second baseman Alex Feinberg received second-team recognition, while redshirt freshman reliever Russell Brewer was named to the All-Freshman team and Macias was named to the All-Defensive team.

Alvarez hit .338 with seven homers, 14 doubles and 25 RBI in 32 games. In 21 SEC games, he hit .400 with five homers, 10 doubles and 18 RBI. Macias led the team with a .366 batting average with seven homers, 15 doubles and 33 RBI. He hit.347 with six homers, nine doubles and 23 RBI in league play and was error free in 58 chances in the outfield.

De la Osa finished his senior campaign with a .309 average, 10 homers, 14 doubles and 45 RBI. He batted .322 in SEC play with four homers, 10 doubles and 26 RBI, while also stealing 13 bases in 15 attempts. He also became the school’s all-time leader in hits and doubles.

Flaherty batted .318 with a team-high 13 homers and 56 RBI to go with 10 doubles and nine stolen bases. He hit .328 with nine homers and 30 RBI in SEC play, earning all-league honors for the second straight year.

Feinberg finished second on the team with a .324 batting average with two homers, 12 doubles and 33 RBI. The senior missed just two SEC games after suffering a broken jaw and is also a two-time Academic All-District selection.

Brewer led the team with five saves while posting a 4-2 record with a 3.38 ERA. He recorded 49 strikeouts and issued just eight walks in 42.2 innings pitched.

Georgia shortstop Gordon Beckham, a potential No. 1 overall pick in June's Major League Draft, was named the unanimous SEC Player of the Year, Georgia closer Josh Field was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year and Georgia coach David Perno was named SEC Coach of the Year.

You can see all of the selections here.

The sixth-seeded Commodores play third-seeded Florida Wednesday at 1 p.m. CT in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. You can check out the entire bracket here.

Vandy to receive major renovations

In less than an hour (9 a.m. CT), Vanderbilt Athletics officials will hold a press conference to detail the multi-million dollar Athletic Facility Project. You can watch the press conference live in All Access (Free) on

The Tennessean reports that it is a $50 million, five-phase plan for upgrading Vanderbilt Stadium, Memorial Gym and Hawkins Field over the next five years. The project includes:

• Memorial Gym: Renovation of locker rooms, postgame press conference area, training room and weight room.
• Vanderbilt Stadium: Renovation of concourses, entrance areas (above) and exterior painting.
• Hawkins Field: Construction of permanent seating outside right-field fence and possible extension of seating area down first-base line.
• John Rich Practice Facility: Installation of new synthetic turf.
• Hall of Fame: Construction of new athletic Hall of Fame

Officials said that project is centered around football upgrades.

"I think people will be very excited about the changes to Vanderbilt Stadium, aesthetically — just creating more of a Commodore atmosphere, a family atmosphere," said chancellor Nick Zeppos . "We've got a series of very exciting projects."

Monday, May 19, 2008

A-Rod has high praise for Price

David Price pitched against the Yankees extended spring squad, which included three-time American League MVP Alex Rodriguez, who is rehabbing his strained right quadriceps, on Saturday. The results were promising.

Price struck out Rodriguez twice, allowing the third baseman one hit -- a solo homer over the right-center fence.

"He's a competitive guy, I'm a competitive guy and everybody has pride," Price said. "So it doesn't matter who are you are facing, you want to get them out and want to throw good pitches."

Rodriguez came away impressed with Price, whose fastball hovered between 95-97 mph for the majority of his five innings.

"I wish he was on our team," Rodriguez said. "He has a very bright future. The Rays are doing a fantastic job of drafting these young guys."

That's pretty cool stuff.

Price struck out 10 on Saturday and is scheduled to join Class A Vero Beach and make his professional debut on Thursday against Clearwater.

You can read the full story from here.

Stallings excited about program's future

Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings was a guest on 104.5 The Zone last Friday and sounded very optimistic about the direction of his program. You can listen to the interview here.

This comment should certainly have Commodore fans excited:
"Our staff has really done a nice job in the last few years of continuing our efforts to upgrade our talent level. With the guys that we've added this year and the other guys we have in the freshman class, I think we've got some things going now to where once we grow this team up -- I don't expect us to be ready to contend for a National Championship next November or December or anything. But, I really believe once we have a chance to get these guys some real experience, I think we have a chance to have an outstanding and one that's maybe as good as anyone we've ever had here."

Here are some of the other highlights from the interview:

On Festus Ezeli
If Festus continues to become the player that he has indicated that at some point he will be, he'll be a weapon. He's 6'10" with a wingspan of 7'5" who is going to change how the game is played around our basket defensively.

On the future

We're accumulating some different kinds of talent than we've had in the past and it's going to be excited to see where it all leads.

On Jeff Taylor
Very athletic small forward and a guy that knows how to play. High energy level, plays hard, very good competitor, likes to win, has a knack for scoring the ball. We think Jeff can impact our team immediately.

On Brad Tinsley
We tried to recruit him last summer, offered him a scholarship and he ended up signing with Pepperdine in part because his AAU coach was hired there as an assistant. The staff got fired this year so Brad was released from his letter of intent and reopened his recruiting and I think our presence last summer really helped us this time around.

A number of Pac-10 and SEC and ACC schools recruited Brad. He's a point guard that's about 6'4" that can also play the 2. He's an outstanding shooter and passer and his shooting and passing skills will certainly give him a chance to impact our team immediately as well.

On Steve Tchiengang
A power forward from Cameroon originally. About 6'9", great body, real long arms, very good range from deep. The new 3-point line shouldn't be an issue for him. Plays hard, plays physically, has a chance to make an impact because of Ross Neltner's departure.

On Lance Goulbourne

A combo-forward, about 6'8". Went to The Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey, one of the finest academic high schools in the country. Nationally ranked tennis player as a 15-year-old. Great athlete. Both he and Jeff are as good of athletes as we've ever had here. Very mature kid who understands the big picture.

On Jordan Smart

We actually may end up giving Jordan a scholarship for this year. As it stands, we'll only have 11 guys on scholarship so we may actually put him on scholarship for one year. I'm not allowed to comment further on him because he hasn't signed a letter of intent.

On the incoming freshman class as a whole
We're excited about the class and think that all four of them at varying degrees will have opportunities to make an impression on our team next year.

Baseball Notebook

To put it lightly, it was an ugly weekend in Gainesville for the Vanderbilt baseball team. The Commodores (37-18, 15-14 Southeastern Conference) enter the SEC Tournament as losers of five straight, including all three against the Gators. It's their longest SEC losing streak since 2003.

Vanderbilt earned a six-seed and will play third-seeded Florida Wednesday in Hoover, Ala., at 1 p.m. CT in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament. If they win, the Dores will play the No. 2 LSU-No. 7 South Carolina winner on Thursday at 5 p.m. If they lose, the Dores will the play the loser of that LSU-South Carolina contest Thursday at 10 a.m. You can check out the full bracket here.

Unlike a year ago, when Vanderbilt seemed to have a knack for winning close games, this year's squad has struggled finishing out games. In fact, the Dores led in all three games this weekend and were ahead in the eighth inning in two of them.

On Saturday, May 10, Vanderbilt was one out away from defeating Georgia 2-1 and moving within one game of the SEC East-leading Bulldogs. But, the Dores went on to lose that game in extra innings. Over the past five games, they've lost three two-run games and two one-run games.

Still, Vanderbilt is in the tournament for the third straight year and the fifth in six seasons under coach Tim Corbin. The Dores have a good track record in Hoover, reaching the championship game in 2004 and 2006 and winning it in 2007.

We think we own that tournament," Corbin said in a story by Brett Hait of The Nashville City Paper.

Junior third baseman Pedro Alvarez continues to rake, going 6-for-12 with four doubles, a homer, three RBI and five runs scored. In their latest mock draft, Baseball America has Alvarez going No. 2 to the Pirates.

The Commodores struggled on the mound as the pitching staff sported a 8.78 ERA and gave up 38 hits (including six doubles, a triple and eight homers) in 26.2 innings. Ouch.

Corbin addressed the media this morning in the SEC Press Conference and here are a couple of highlights:

On the depth of the SEC
"I don't think there's much difference between the No. 1 team and the No. 12 team in this conference. I feel like there are nine or 10 teams that can go into a Regional and come out smelling like a rose."

On describing this season
"It's been a tough year for us in a lot of different ways. Not as smooth as last year and we set a bar for ourselves last year by playing so well. Whether that was attainable or not, we just didn't play that same way so we've come to this point of the season in a lot different manner than last year. I choose to believe it's all for the good. It's all about perspective right now and it is a new season."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Video of the Day: The Truth

Here is part 2 of Shan Foster's interview with the Barca Blog, where The Truth discusses how he's preparing for next month's NBA Draft, the impact of Kevin Stallings on him as a player and what he hopes will be his legacy at Vanderbilt.